Cybersecurity is an ever-shifting landscape. Cyber criminals are constantly improving their skills and always finding ways to bypass the latest and greatest defenses. Business owners who want to minimize their exposure to cyber risk must — at the very least — stay up to date on this dynamic subject.

To be truly proactive against hackers, you need a layered security strategy which combines multiple cybersecurity solutions into a comprehensive defense/detection shield. These days, there is no single answer when it comes to protecting yourself from a data breach.

What are the top cyber threats you’re facing in 2019?

1) Ransomware

Yes, ransomware is still a major threat, and businesses of all sizes are being increasingly targeted.

These attacks use specialized malware to encrypt data or lock networks. Once the Ransomware is deployed, a message is displayed demanding a very costly payment to restore access or decrypt the files. Victims are usually asked to pay the ransom in untraceable cryptocurrency, and paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee they will actually have access restored.

Minimize your ransomware risk by:

  • Making your employees aware. Teaching employees to spot and avoid phishing attempts is a huge first step. (In most cases, Ransomware finds its way into a network via malicious emails.)
  • Using remote data backups. A cloud-based data backup lets you format the infected drives and recover your lost data.
  • Using virus/malware scanning. An automated system that scans emails and their links and attachments before they’re opened will go a long way in preventing an issue.

2) Social Engineering

The largest risk of a data breach comes through your own employees. 93% of all the data breaches investigated in a recent report were traced back to an employee misstep (such as clicking a malicious email link).

Employees are still falling victim to social attacks. Financial pretexting and phishing represent 98 percent of social incidents and 93 percent of all breaches investigated.

Hackers know that the weakest link in and defensive plan is a human user, and they use this knowledge to their advantage.

To reduce your organization’s risk:

  • Raise Awareness and Provide Training. An employee who knows how to spot a phishing attempt is far less likely to fall prey to it.
  • Set a BYOD Policy. Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies establish rules and procedures for bringing personal devices into work. Such a policy can help limit the risks involved when allowing personal computers, phones, and other devices onto the company network.

3) Unwatched Networks

Hackers will typically probe a business network to discover their weaknesses — and they need only ONE entry point to penetrate even the most robust defenses. When a hacker discovers a vulnerability, all bets are off.

According to a New York Times article published after the 2014 JP Morgan breach: “JPMorgan’s security team had apparently neglected to upgrade one of its network servers with the dual password scheme, the people briefed on the matter said. That left the bank vulnerable to intrusion.”

The protect yourself against this type of probing, you must use a 24/7 monitoring solution. Without real human eyes watching your network traffic, cybercriminals are free to test your defenses, look for holes, and find a way in.

4) Unpatched Vulnerabilities/Poor Updating

Many popular business software programs have vulnerabilities that hackers are well accustomed to exploiting. Even though known vulnerabilities are usually patched by the software developer, the patch doesn’t work unless it’s applied in a timely manner.

You should follow a comprehensive patching schedule to limit your exposure to these threats. Any out-of-date software should be patched to the latest security version as soon as such patches become available. You should also actively check for security patches or software updates at least every 2-3 weeks.

We recommend against using older software that is no longer supported by the developer, as this typically means even known vulnerabilities will not be patched.

5) Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks

This type of attack overwhelms a victim’s network resources, slow your network to a crawl and limiting your own access. These attacks can also be used to shut down your public-facing website.

Additionally, DDoS attacks are often used to conceal other malicious behavior. Behind the diversionary DDoS attack, hackers will attempt more serious data breaches and attempt to steal files or plant malware.

DDoS attacks can be carried out in a number of different ways, which makes preventing them a challenge. A comprehensive cybersecurity strategy is required — one that considers different kinds of DDoS threats and how to counter them.

Want to protect your business network from all of the cybersecurity threats on this list? Contact NCC today to learn more about how we can help.